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  • Jane Smith

Day 7 Padstow to Port Isaac

Quite a busy night last night, with the carousing in the bar below my room carrying on till late. I’m glad I decided that ear plugs were an essential item. And then breakfast was entertaining. The manager who accidentally demolished the coffee machine in my room yesterday hadn’t turned up for work. It’s not clear whether those two facts are connected. The harassed chef and waiter who’d been left in the lurch were so lovely, doing their absolute best for me, but the breakfast left a little to be desired, and their bafflement at where the marmalade or jam might be kept was notable. Yesterday I’d have found it frustrating, because I’m feeling less wobbly today instead it was hilarious.


I rerouted my plans for today. Instead of doing a 14 or 15 mile walk, I aimed to reduce it to an easy 12 or so. But I decided I would do indeed do the long detour round the Camel estuary instead of taking the ferry across the river. Partly because I don’t want to feel I’ve missed a bit out, but mainly because last night Sandra was telling me how lovely the Camel trail is. And so it proved. Quiet level walking watching the birds at low tide on another perfect walking day.

I’ve rung the changes and instead of walking in my incredibly stinky trousers I was in shorts today. Lovely to feel the breeze on my skin. And lovely for everyone near me that my trousers are safely tucked away. Roll on the rest in a couple of days so that I can properly wash everything. My patented method of washing my clothes at the same time as me in the bath or the shower is not proving quite as effective as all would like.

I stopped for a coffee at the Atlantic Coast Express coffee bar. Excellent cappuccino, excellent view and then a lovely chat with James and Jackie about the walk.

As I got closer to Wadebridge the trail got busier with cyclists of all ages and vehicles of lots of types. I especially enjoyed the small dogs travelling by sidecar, sniffing the air like medieval princesses whilst their owners sweated away next to them. Having walked pretty much east for 6 miles, at Wadebridge I crossed the old bridge, built in 1468. It’s known as the bridge on wool, as legend says it was built on wool sacks. Looking pretty solid to me, they clearly made wool sturdy in those days. I then turned north and headed inland.

It’s so frustrating when footpaths are left either unmanaged or deliberately obstructed. If I had used the road from Wadebridge to Port Isaac it would have been 9 miles. But using the footpath shown on the OS Map across fields, the distance reduced to 6. So I set off onto the line of the footpath marked on the map. It roughly corresponded to the tractor line through a field of wheat. At the next field the wheat was higher, and at the third I was getting fed up with my legs being scratched. Finally at the end of the third field there was no path, and the junction was impassable. I had to retrace my steps, meaning that I walked an extra very uncomfortable couple of miles today. At the time I was listening to a book about how hunter gatherers have been essentially wiped out over history by those who were good at agriculture. I felt it was extremely appropriate. I felt pretty furious.

Eventually I found another footpath which was better maintained. But on that one it was as if the farmer was playing ‘annoy the walker’ bingo. Cows in the field. With calves. Stiles that had been made by a man so they were too high for women’s legs. Almost impassable boggy patches on the path that went over my boots. Fortunately not right into my boots, otherwise the roaring of my fury would have been heard outside Cornwall. And finally the pub I was aiming for in Chapel Amble was shut due to no staff. Arrrrrgggghhhhh.

But a nice man in Chapel Amble gave me a drink of water. And I turned on my playlist, and the first song was ‘Don’t look back in anger’. And the second was ‘Don’t stop me now’. My anger turned to laughter and a loud performance channelling my best Gallagher and Mercury. And then Finzi’s Eclogue reminded me how beautiful this pastoral bit of England is, even if impassable at times.

When the good people of St Endellion built a church for their saint in 1260 I can’t imagine that they would have thought it would be a place of refuge for a sweaty atheist 762 years later. But refuge it gave me. Utterly peaceful and refreshing for twenty minutes, it was a very special interlude following a steep climb up to the cliffs above Port Isaac.

So my shorter, easier day did not really turn out to be so, but regular breaks for snacks and my thermos of tea meant that I didn’t get wobbly today. Therefore I was feeling pretty pleased with myself after negotiating the annoyances of this afternoon as I descended into the impossibly lovely fishing village of Port Isaac.

I celebrated my arrival by going for an extra flake in my mint choc chip. The pictures below are very much the ‘before’. Moments after I took the photo, whilst cooling my tiny feet in the sea, a seagull snatched the flake and half the ice cream out of the cone.

A lovely late afternoon pottering about the village, and then hanging out on the balcony of my B and B segued to a delicious meal at The Mote. I was extremely lucky that I’d booked it, as many of the pubs in the village, including the one above which I’m staying, have closed, also due to lack of staff.

Stats

Distance: 15 miles

Total ascent: 1200 feet

Calories burned: 1950


Local tipple - a half of Doom Bar bitter

Dinner at The Mote - very good

Crab rarebit with samphire

Award winning fish pie with smoked cheddar, Cornish potatoes and broccoli


A new addition to the stats - I’m listening to a new (to me) song every day. Using the Guardian best albums of 2021 list as a starting point, working from number 50 upwards. It seems like a good time to listen to new things as well as my old favourites.

Agnes - Fingers crossed. Technopop with the feel of ABBA (she is Swedish, after all). Cheerful, upbeat and at exactly the same tempo as my walking pace, which was speedy this morning.


Number of tiny purple bruises on my left upper arm due to catching the flesh between my walking poles when I need to hold them there whilst looking at the map: 9


Video of the day: https://www.relive.cc/view/vrqokDp1Qyq

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